California agricultural leaders are making progress on a broad front to address major challenges to the industry’s sustainability, guided by goals established by the State Board of Food and Agriculture. And they are doing so by collaborating with environmentalists and representatives of other groups with an interest in the food system. These are the conclusions of a new progress report by American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization that has been facilitating California Agricultural Vision.
(For more on sustainability, see Show me an ‘unsustainable’ farmer )
The report, From Strategies to Results, stems from the California Agricultural Vision (Ag Vision) process that was started in 2008 by the State Board and the California Department of Food & Agriculture. Ag Vision was designed to identify and promote actions that farmers, ranchers and others in the food system should take to assure a healthy population, a clean environment and a profitable industry. In a 2010 report entitled Strategies for Sustainability, a blue ribbon advisory committee (roster below) recommended a dozen initiatives to address challenges such as improving access to healthy food, streamlining government regulations, assuring adequate irrigation water and conserving farmland. The most recent report documents more than 40 actions that have been taken to address these and other critical issues, including the agricultural workforce, climate change and renewable energy.
California Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross welcomed the American Farmland Trust report, explaining, “Ag Vision is a call for leadership by all those concerned about the future of California agriculture and its critical role in our state. I am pleased with the progress we have made by working together and look forward to many more accomplishments. Most importantly, I encourage you to join this process and be part of the conversation. Ag Vision is for all Californians.”
State Board President Craig McNamara, owner and operator of Sierra Orchards, added, “When the State Board outlined a vision for the future of California agriculture, it recognized that agriculture had to seize the initiative and join with others. AFT’s report shows that this is beginning to happen.”
Both the new American Farmland Trust report and its 2010 Ag Vision document are available at http://blog.farmland.org/2012/04/report-charts-progress-toward-achieving-californias-agricultural-vision/ and on the website of the California Department of Food and Agriculture at http://calagvision.cdfa.ca.gov . Both web pages invite readers to comment about which they believe are the most important and promising of the initiatives described in the report.
California Agricultural Vision is supported by generous contributions from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr., Foundation and Bank of America.
For more information about the American Farmland Trust report and Ag Vision, please contact Edward Thompson, Jr., California director of American Farmland Trust at [email protected]  or 530-231-5259 (office) or 202-309-1162 (cell).